Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Roadmap of My Days

The scar on my thigh looks like a little bug, a souvenir of a bite from a dog that "never bites" more than 30 years ago. I got stitches and ice-cream, and then more stitches when I ripped the wound back open playing with my Grandpa's lawn mower.

Here is the ruffled potato chip on my right knee. Blood seeped through the holes in the band-aid for a week after the cross country meet, and the nurse at the camp infirmary mused, "Maybe we should have gotten stitches for that." Two round scars circle it like moons, memories of an encounter between my bike and a car decades later. Me and the bike lost.

A tiny round scar on my right temple must be from chicken-pox, though now it makes me think more about my bout with shingles. (Get the vaccine, seriously.) Its closest neighbor is the tiny scar on my forehead from when Jaime threw a rock and hit me. After I punched him in the nose, the teacher had to run two bloody children back down the hill to the Van Gorder Walden School's farmhouse. Later he gave me some of his celery with peanut butter and raisins which made me throw up, so maybe he got the last laugh after all.

There are two lines of scars, symmetrically placed on my chest and lower back, marking many many cases of chafing during races. Another scar on my left shin memorializes the stick that lay buried under fallen leaves during an autumn trail run. Anybody who says running is not a contact sport is fibbing.

The sickle moon on my left knee is a surgery scar, earned after a tumble down a flight of stairs. We kept the damaged door in place for years and friends got to leave class with me five minutes early to carry my books while I struggled on crutches. It still feels funny to scratch there since the nerves all got cut in half.

There are the scars you can't see without a guide. Like the faint perfect circles on my shin where I burned myself on my motorcycle muffler, over and over. Or the spot on my wrist that was burned by the iron, leaving a mark that made people avert their eyes for a year wondering why a twenty year-old girl would want to die (even as she sometimes asked herself why she wouldn't). And the many places where my heart shattered over unrequited teen aged love.

I'm only now reaching middle age, and I'm not getting any more graceful. I may need to find some new real estate for the next phase of scar tissue topography.

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